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[Xmca-l] Re: A New Type of Academic Conference



Yes!

Not just to save on carbon emissions but hopefully to also make them serve
a greater academic community incl. students and those without any grant
funding or institutional support for travel.

Some of the huge benefit to conferences, however, are the informal
networking that happens outside of regular sessions (ie, in the hallways,
at bars, etc.), so it'd be curious to hear how that is addressed.

mark

On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 8:54 AM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
wrote:

> I can't recall if this went out to this listserve. Apologies if it is a
> repeat, but this seems like it might be an ideal way to organize a virtual
> CHAT conference considering that we have people from all over the world who
> like to CHAT but who don't always have money to travel to ISCAR.
>
> -greg
>
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>
> *From:* UCSB EHC [mailto:ehcfellow@gmail.com]
>
> *Sent:* Tuesday, October 04, 2016 9:10 PM
> *To:* Tami Pugmire <tamipugmire@byu.edu>
> *Subject:* Please circulate within your department: A New Type of Academic
> Conference
>
>
>
> Dear Tami Pugmire,
>
>
>
> Would you be so kind as to forward this email to faculty and graduate
> students in your department, as well as anyone else who might be
> interested?
>
>
>
> This is a follow up email to one I sent out earlier this summer and
> outlines an eco-friendly conference approach that we have used at UC Santa
> Barbara that has a nearly nonexistent carbon footprint. In order to
> encourage other groups to try this conference model, we have created a
> White Paper / Practical Guide that explains our approach.  Details are
> below.
>
>
>
> Thanks!
>
>
>
>  Ken
>
>
>
>
>
> The environmental cost of flying to and from academic conferences is
> staggering. When we recently calculated the total greenhouse gas (GHG)
> emissions for the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) campus, we discovered that
> roughly a third of our GHG emissions come from air travel to conferences,
> talks, and meetings. Putting these GHG emissions into human terms, this is
> equal to the total annual carbon footprint of a city of 27,500 people
> living in India. And UCSB is just one of nearly 5000 colleges and
> universities in the U.S. alone.
>
>
>
> This issue can also be approached personally. When Peter Kalmus, a climate
> scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, did the math for a recent
> article in Grist
> <http://grist.org/climate-energy/a-climate-scientist-
> who-decided-not-to-fly/>,
> he found that two-thirds of his personal GHG emissions annually came from
> air travel to and from conferences and meetings.
>
>
>
> At UCSB we have been experimenting with a new type of nearly-carbon neutral
> (NCN) conference that takes place online (the talks are prerecorded; the
> Q&A sessions interactive) and which has GHG emissions that are less than 1%
> of its traditional fly-in counterpart. Because we use open source software,
> such a conference can be staged for nearly zero cost. An individual
> familiar with WordPress installations should be able to have a conference
> space (website) prepared in less than a day.
>
>
>
> My reason for writing is that we have created a White Paper / Practical
> Guide that both explains the rationale behind this NCN conference approach
> and also details how to coordinate such an event:
> http://ehc.english.ucsb.edu/?page_id=14080. If you are planning a
> conference in 2016-17, we urge you to consider this approach. Please note
> that this is not in any way a commercial venture. We are just a group of
> faculty interested in doing what we can to help mitigate our profession's
> worrisome impact on climate change by freely sharing our experience.
>
>
>
> Note that this conference model differs significantly from a typical
> webinar, as it does not use Skype, Zoom.us, WebEx, GoToMeeting, or any such
> real-time teleconferencing solution. In a nutshell, here is how it works:
>
>
>
> 1) *Speakers record their own talks*. This can be A) a video of them
> speaking, generally filmed with a webcam or smartphone, B) a screen
> recording of a presentation, such as a PowerPoint, or C) a hybrid of the
> two, with speaker and presentation alternately or simultaneously onscreen.
> Because they are prerecorded, talks are closed captioned for
> greater accessibility.
>
>
>
> 2) *Talks are viewed on the conference website*. Once they are made
> available on the conference website, the streaming talks can be viewed at
> any time. Talks are organized into panels (i.e. individual webpages) that
> generally have three speakers each and a shared Q&A session – just like a
> traditional conference.
>
>
>
> 3) *Participants contribute to an online Q&A session*. During the time that
> the conference is open, which is generally two or three weeks, participants
> can take part in the Q&A sessions for the panels, which are similar to
> online forums, by posing and responding to written questions and comments.
> Because comments can be made at any time in any time zone, scholars from
> across the globe can equally take part in the conference.
>
>
>
> For an example of this approach, please visit the website from our May 2016
> NCN conference on "Climate Change: Views from the Humanities," which
> provides a full archive of the event, including all talk videos and Q&A
> sessions: http://ehc.english.ucsb.edu/?page_id=12687.
>
>
>
> To see this model in action (and to take part in the Q&A sessions, if you
> like), visit the website for our next NCN conference, “The World in 2050:
> Creating/Imagining Just Climate Futures,” which will take place from
> October 24 to November 14, 2016: http://ehc.english.ucsb.edu/?
> page_id=14895.
> Keynote speakers include Bill McKibben, Patrick Bond, Erik Assadourian, and
> Margaret Klein Salamon. A truly international event, we have over 50
> speakers from six continents.
>
>
>
> Although originally conceived of as a way to help mitigate climate change,
> this NCN conference model has additional advantages:
>
>
>
> 1) Because of the high cost of airfare, scholars from many developing
> countries have long been summarily excluded from international conferences.
> Without the requirement of travel, scholars can participate from nearly
> anywhere on the globe, especially as asynchronous talks and Q&A sessions,
> privileging no one locale, eliminate the challenge presented by world time
> zones - thereby facilitating truly global, interactive conferences.
>
>
>
> 2) This conference approach is generally more accessible than its
> traditional counterparts, as A) eliminating travel sidesteps many hurdles
> to physical accessibility, B) prerecorded talks can be closed captioned for
> hard-of-hearing individuals, and, C) with respect to the blind and visually
> impaired, the conference website can be optimized to work with audio screen
> readers and talks can also be made available as audio podcasts.
>
>
>
> 3) Similar to open-access journals, the lasting archive created by the
> conference (both recorded talks and written Q&A discussion) gives nearly
> anyone anywhere with relatively affordable technology instant and lasting
> access to all the cutting-edge material introduced at the event. In
> contrast, traditional conferences are often closed-door affairs open to
> only a privileged few.
>
>
>
> 4) The text-based Q&A sessions, which were open for the three-week duration
> of the May 2016 UCSB conference, on average generated three times more
> discussion than takes place at its traditional counterpart. One of the
> sessions generated ten times more discussion, making clear that, while
> different from a traditional conference, personal interaction was not only
> possible, but in certain respects superior.
>
>
>
> 5) Because the cost of such a conference is considerably less than its
> traditional counterparts, a range of groups and institutions that could not
> ordinarily stage an event of this sort are now able to do so. This includes
> universities in the developing world previously lacking the significant
> financial resources required to coordinate international conferences.
>
>
>
> 6) Conference talks can be closed captioned in more than one language.
> Although this was not done for the May 2016 conference, future UCSB events
> are being planned with talks by speakers in their native languages that
> will be closed captioned in English. In addition, we plan to have all talks
> captioned in Spanish as well as English.
>
>
>
> For more details, do check out our White Paper / Practical Guide:
> http://ehc.english.ucsb.edu/?page_id=14080. If you have any questions,
> please feel free to send them directly to me at the below email address.
>
>
>
> With many thanks for considering this NCN conference approach!
>
>
>
> Ken
>
>
>
> Ken Hiltner, Professor
>
> English and Environmental Studies
>
> Director, Environmental Humanities Initiative
>
> 3431 South Hall Administrative Center
>
> University of California, Santa Barbara
>
> Santa Barbara, CA 93106-3170
>
> hiltner@english.ucsb.edu
>
> ehc.english.ucsb.edu
>
> kenhiltner.com
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
>



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